Overview and Logistics

At this workshop we will discuss effective strategies for creating a sense of belonging in the classroom. The feeling of not belonging in a science classroom can undermine a student's academic performance. Many students come into our classrooms with numerous obstacles to doing well in our courses. Very quickly they feel they do not belong in the class and begin to tune out. At this workshop, participants will learn about effective methods, including brief, non-cognitive methods, to connect with students and build their confidence. Participants will also share their own experiences and a specific activity or strategy that they have used in their own classrooms.

Workshop Goals

Participants will:
  • Learn what a "sense of belonging" means for our students and how it improves student academic success;
  • Learn effective strategies to help students develop self-confidence and a sense of belonging in the classroom;
  • Experience how unstructured classroom environments can work against inclusiveness, fairness, and equity; and
  • Learn from the group's sharing and discussion of activities based on concepts such as metacognition or formative assessments that provide connections between students and course content.

Date and times

Friday, January 17, 2020

9:30 AM to 2:00 PM, Lunch included

Coffee and registration: 9-9:30 AM


Please come prepared to share an activity or strategy that you use in your classroom that promotes students' sense of belonging. This might include something that connects to students' personal experiences, fosters a validating classroom environment, helps with cultural challenges or addresses unique needs of English language learners, builds a send of community in your classroom, addresses stereotype threat, builds career connections, etc. If you don't use such an activity but have one you are interested in trying, bring that idea with you.

A few example strategies include:

  • Questions at the beginning of the course that allow students to express their personal values
  • Spotlighting diverse researchers who look and think like many of our students
  • Enhancing the relevance of course content for students via essays or assignments where students connect content with their personal life
  • Methods to help all students improve their capacity to learn, such as:
    • Training in note taking and efficient reading
    • The Socratic method in teaching to allow students to make important scientific deductions themselves
    • Student practice in explaining to others concepts from the ground up
  • Problem-based learning assignments on local environmental issues that allow students to use their individual skills on an issue of relevance to them
  • Building trust with genuine concern and small but consistent positive interactions
  • Keeping track of students who are struggling in our classes and suggesting solutions to each of them individually (e.g. via PCC's Early Alert system)


This workshop is free to participants, thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation.


Please register no later than Thursday, January 9, 2020. Registration is now closed.

Facilities, Directions, and Parking

The workshop will be held in the E Building on the campus of Pasadena City College in room E104.

Parking permits and a campus map will be issued prior to the workshop.


One week prior to the workshop you will receive an email from which you can select your lunch choice, which will include vegetarian and gluten-free options.